by Erin McNelis
Lambertville and its environs may seem bucolic and removed from the challenges associated with cities, but even small towns have a defined economic stratum. That is why for 35 years, the non-profit social service agency Fisherman’s Mark has been serving the underserved with programs that provide assistance for those whose needs are not being met by other organizations in the areas of education, employment, nutrition and life skills.
Fisherman’s Mark, led by executive director Linda Meacham, provides comprehensive programs designed to work to address the often complex issues people face. “We advocate for people,” explains Meacham. “We work with them to resolve their problems. We don’t hand out money, but we offer help.” The programs include a food pantry, case management, and a nationally accredited day care and after school program.
In conjunction with the food pantry, the organization holds a Feed a Family project for the holidays. The organization raises money through donations to purchase the traditional holiday dinner foods including turkeys, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and any extras that people donate. All food pantry clients are eligible to benefit from the program. The program serves families in all of Hunterdon County as well as residents of Mercer, Somerset, and Warren counties in New Jersey as well as Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania. Meals are $30 each, and Meacham relies heavily on donations to make these meals happen for hundreds of area families.
“Food security is a barrier to function on a lot of levels,” says Meacham. “It is an indication that things aren’t going right in other areas, as well.” The organization’s offices are situated in front of the food pantry, so that staff can connect with food pantry clients when they arrive. “We can see them, say hi, and offer to help them with paperwork, because many are just overwhelmed,” says Meacham. Food pantry hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 a.m. to noon and Tuesday and Thursday 3 to 5 p.m.
Glenn Davis, the owner and branch manager of Benchmark Lending, got involved with the organization because of what he calls “the human train.” Out his office window, he could see a long line of happy children on their way to school each day. That line of children was coming from the school program at Fisherman’s Mark. “Those happy kids pointed me towards the organization,” says Davis. He contributes both his money and his time, having recently become a board member. His company also supports Fisherman’s Mark on a monthly basis. “The organization isn’t about giving anything away but teaching people how to solve problems,” says Davis. “That is the backbone of what Fisherman’s Mark is and why I got involved.”
The school program is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and provides families with the ability to work and function without being overwhelmed by high childcare costs. It is nationally accredited for ages 2 and up. The staff doesn’t just babysit, but prepares children emotionally and academically to integrate into the education system and succeed.
Children in the program receive breakfast, and then the school aged children are walked to school and picked up at the end of the school day.
“A community needs to take care of its people,” says Meacham. “Not everyone is as lucky as everyone else, and that is as true for small towns as for other places.”
To donate to Feed a Family for the Holidays, visit www.fishermansmark.org or send a check to Fisherman’s Mark, 37 S. Main St., Lambertville, NJ 08530.